Yakima StageTwo Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Sturdy and stable, high weight capacity, optional ramp for loading heavy e-bikes, security features
Cons: Expensive, heavy and bulky
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|Pros||Sturdy and stable, high weight capacity, optional ramp for loading heavy e-bikes, security features||Easy tilt release function, durable, fat bike compatible, tool-free installation||Reasonably priced, highly versatile, solid construction, user-friendly tilt release, comes with locks||Very secure hold, no frame or fork contact||More security features than other trunk racks, comes in 2 and 3 bike versions, lightweight, folds small for transport or storage, more stable than other trunk racks|
|Cons||Expensive, heavy and bulky||Hefty, pricey||Sits slightly closer to vehicle than some, some assembly required||Design seems a little over-complicated, limited to vehicles with low roof height, you have to lift bike to height of roof to load||Some assembly required, 33 lbs per bike weight limit, may not be compatible with all frames styles and shapes|
|Bottom Line||This heavy-duty hitch rack can handle any bike in your stable and is great for transporting heavy e-bikes with the optional loading ramp||Impressively easy to use and highly versatile, we think this is the best hitch-mount rack on the market||A versatile hitch-mount rack that provides a high price to performance ratio||A roof-mount rack with an exceptionally sturdy and secure hold of your bicycle with no frame contact||A quality trunk mount rack that stands out for its security features, stability, and adjustability|
|Rating Categories||Yakima StageTwo||Thule T2 Pro XTR||RockyMounts MonoRail||Thule UpRide||Thule Outway Hanging 2|
|Ease of EveryDay Use (20%)|
|Ease of Removal and Storage (20%)|
|Ease of Assembly (10%)|
|Specs||Yakima StageTwo||Thule T2 Pro XTR||RockyMounts MonoRail||Thule UpRide||Thule Outway Hanging 2|
|Style||Hitch (tray)||Hitch (tray)||Hitch (tray)||Roof||Trunk|
|Lock?||Locking hitch knob and security cables||Yes||Yes||Available but not included||Yes|
|Rack Weight||63 lbs 8 oz||51 lbs||44 lbs 2 oz||17 lbs||17 lbs 1oz|
|Max Weight Per Bike||70 lbs (60 lbs RV and 42 lbs Off-Road rated)||60 lbs||60 lbs||44 lbs||33 lbs|
|Other Sizes Available?||Comes in 1.25" and 2" receiver sizes, 2 bike add-on sold separately||Yes, 1.25" receiver and rack add-on for 2 additional bikes||Yes, 1.25" reciever, single bike add-on sold separately||No||Yes, 3 bike|
|Cross Bar Compatibility||N/A||N/A||N/A||Round, Square, Aero, Most Factory||N/A|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Yakima is one of the biggest names in the bike rack market, and they are constantly adding new models to their line, including the StageTwo hitch rack. This heavy-duty rack proved to be very easy to use with a number of user-friendly features. We were also impressed by its versatility, its ability to accommodate a range of tire widths, wheel sizes, wheelbase lengths, bikes up to 60 lbs each, and easy loading with the optional ramp. It's fairly expensive, kinda heavy and bulky, but we came away very impressed by the StageTwo.
Ease of Everyday Use
The StageTwo scored well in this metric and is among one of the most user-friendly racks we've tested. Loading and unloading bikes is a breeze with a low loading height, secure front wheel clamp and simple rear wheel strap, and a tilt release handle to adjust the angle of the rack when not in use or for access to the rear of the vehicle.
Loading and unloading bikes should be quick and easy, and Yakima made some important design choices to ensure that the StageTwo won't slow you down. Simply fold the front wheel clamp to its open position and slide the rubber coated StrongArm hook all the way up by squeezing the handle. The rear wheel strap has been designed so that it hinges back and stays open, not falling down and in the way like some other racks. Place the bike on the tray with the front wheel in the cradle, and slide the front wheel clamp down over the front tire so it is tight. Adjust the rear wheel strap for your wheelbase if necessary by sliding it along the tray, then pull the ladder strap tight. Simply reverse these steps to remove the bikes.
A remote tilt release handle at the end of the rack's support arm makes it super easy to fold the rack up vertically when not in use, or tilt it down to allow access to the rear of the vehicle, even with bikes loaded (it is recommended that you use both hands to support the rack when bikes are loaded).
If you're transporting heavy e-bikes, Yakima sells an optional loading ramp called the RampUp ($99). The ramp slots into the rear wheel end of either tray and allows you to roll heavier bikes up into position on the rack. We tested it out, and it works great, it just involves the extra time to deploy the ramp, but certainly makes life easier than wrestling a 60+ pound bike onto the rack without it.
Ease of Removal and Storage
The StageTwo scores well in this metric for its ease of installation and removal but suffers a bit for its storability. Installing and removing this rack is a relatively quick process thanks to the SpeedKnob design. It is quite heavy and large, however, so carrying it between your vehicle and storage location can be a little cumbersome. Like most hitch racks, it takes up quite a bit of space wherever you choose to store it when not in use.
The biggest issue regarding installing and removing the StageTwo is its weight and size. This rack weighs 63.5-pounds, and it is definitely quite bulky, so carrying it around isn't the easiest, but not terribly difficult either. Once you slide the rack into the receiver, it couldn't be easier to secure it to your vehicle. There is a small pin attached to the rack that needs to be lined up with the hole in the receiver and pushed into place. Then simply turn the SpeedKnob clockwise to tighten the anti-wobble cam inside the receiver until it is tight, then lock the SpeedKnob, and you're ready to go. Follow those steps in reverse to remove the rack from the vehicle.
The StageTwo is undoubtedly one of the heaviest and largest hitch-mount racks we've tested. At 63.5-pounds, it's the type of rack that we found best to put on the vehicle and leave it there, as opposed to installing and removing it every time we used it. It's not just the weight, but this rack is also just bigger than virtually any other tray-style hitch racks we've used. This thing will definitely take up a fair amount of space in your shed, garage, or wherever you store it when not in use.
The StageTwo is an impressively versatile bike rack. It comes in both 1.25-inch and 2-inch (tested) receiver sizes as well as two color options, anthracite (tested) and vapor (2-inch only), to suit your preference. An optional 2-bike add-on (2-inch receiver size only) means you can boost your carrying capacity to 4-bikes. It can accommodate a large range of wheel sizes, wheelbase lengths, and tire widths. You can fit virtually any bike on this rack, and the tiered and offset trays help reduce the likelihood of bike-on-bike interference. A weight limit of 70 lbs per bike (reduced to 60 lbs per bike for RV and 42 lbs per bike for off-road use) means you can even carry heavyweight e-bikes.
The StageTwo has a huge range of bike fit that starts with the front wheel cradles. The cradles are designed to fit everything from narrow road bike tires up to 5-inch wide fat bike treads. In its stock configuration, the rear-wheel strap can secure tires up to 3.25-inches in width, and Yakima sells a fat bike kit ($29) with longer straps for fat tires up to 5-inches wide. The rear wheel strap slides along the tray to fit wheelbases from 33 to 52 inches (840mm to 1320mm), which should work for everything from kid's bikes up to super long and slack downhill bikes. Likewise, the front wheel clamp opens very wide and easily fits over 29-inch wheels with big tires, and it clamps way down to as small as 16-inches.
The tiered trays of the StageTwo (the outer tray sits higher than the inner tray) provide a little extra ground clearance and should help to reduce bike interference. The trays can also be centered or offset by adjusting their position on the main support arm, though this adjustment requires fully removing the trays and repositioning them. That said, you can position them optimally to reduce bike interference depending on the bikes you are carrying. It should be noted, however, that the StageTwo is very wide when the trays are offset, and our bike tires stuck out a fair bit on the sides of the Toyota Tacoma we used for testing.
Ease of Assembly
Like most hitch racks, the StageTwo comes in a handful of pieces with some assembly required. It isn't particularly difficult, but it does take a little time to get it from the box and prepare it for use. Thankfully, the instructions are clear and thorough, and it comes with the one tool needed to complete the process. We had our StageTwo assembled in about 40 minutes at a casual pace with little difficulty.
Yakima includes printed instructions with the StageTwo, and following them closely makes assembling the rack quite easy. They recommend you start by inserting the main support arm into the receiver on your vehicle, which is great because it raises it up off the ground making it easier to work on. The trays come in two pieces that get joined together when you bolt them onto the main support arm. We found this process to be relatively straightforward, although we found we needed to shift the trays around slightly to get all the holes to line up perfectly. Once the trays are installed, the front wheel clamp arms also need to be attached. All of the bolts on the StageTwo have 6mm security allen heads with a small peg in the center. The rack comes with the tool needed to install/remove these bolts, and you'll want to be sure to keep track of it for future adjustments because a regular 6mm allen key will not work.
Yakima equipped the StageTwo with loads of features that make this one of the most secure hitch racks we've ever tested. No security features are infallible, of course, but this rack has been designed to make it more secure than most. The rack is easily locked to the vehicle, and integrated cable locks secure the bikes to the rack, but that's not all.
When installing the StageTwo on the vehicle, the SpeedKnob used to tighten the anti-wobble cam in the receiver is also used to lock the rack on the vehicle. When the knob is locked, it turns freely and can't be loosened without the key. This makes it incredibly difficult for anyone without the key to make off with your rack. All of the rack hardware also has special security heads, so it can't be loosened without a very specific tool.
The front-wheel clamp arms have cable locks integrated into their design. These extend out from the top of the arm and are long enough to be looped through the frame or fork of your bike before locking them on a metal peg. These cables are certainly an excellent theft deterrent, but could easily be cut by a determined thief. Yakima has also welded a metal lock loop on the main support arm between the bike trays. This gives you a great, easy access anchor point to loop a cable or chain lock through for an additional layer of security without having to extend it around the whole rack.
The StageTwo is a heavy-duty and rugged rack with a mostly metal construction that appears to be very durable. While our test period didn't provide enough time to speak to the rack's long-term durability, there's nothing we saw that really stands out as problematic.
The receiver arm, main support arm, hinge, trays, and clamp arms are all made of metal with what seems to be a durable painted finish that should stand up well to weather and road grime. There are a handful of plastic parts, but the remote tilt release handle, front-wheel cradle, and front-wheel clamp feel plenty rugged to stand up to regular use and abuse. The weakest point of the StageTwo, in our opinion, is the sliding rear wheel clamps that are made out of thinner plastic. That said, we don't see any reason they should be a durability issue unless they are treated carelessly.
There's no denying that the StageTwo is an expensive bike rack, but it is roughly on par with the other high-end models on the market. Considering this rack's excellent all-around performance, ease of use, versatility, and security, we feel it is money well spent. This is the best Yakima rack we've ever tested, and a particularly compelling option for riders with heavy e-bikes (although the RampUp loading ramp will cost a few extra bucks).
Yakima's StageTwo hitch rack is a well-designed new model that offers impressive versatility, ease of use, and security features. It can fit virtually any size and style of bike, and this sturdy model has a 70-pounds per bike weight limit making it an excellent option for heavy e-bikes, especially when used with the optional RampUp loading ramp. Sure, it's expensive and a bit heavy and bulky, but this is easily the best Yakima hitch rack we've ever tested.
— Jeremy Benson
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